Q&A with Bethel’s Director of Semester Abroad

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Joshua Winningham: What is the best part about being the Director of Semester Abroad? Brent Reimer: The best part about being the Director of SA is that I get to spend time with awesome students who are taking a risk by leaving home and country.  It is so great to live among them and have great conversations about life while we are learning together. JW: How many countries have you been to? BR: 23 and counting.  I have been to some of those 7 times or more. JW: What has been your favorite country? BR: I love the beauty of New Zealand and the friendliness of its people. JW: What might a typical day at work look like for you? BR: Nothing is typical.  Just another day at work looks something like driving students to a beach, museum or cultural activity and spending time with them as they are challenged while living abroad.  Some days I help direct classes, proxy exams, cook meals, lead bible studies, book flights, attend language class, and treat a sick student...all in a day's work. JW: Why should a Bethel student go on a Semester Abroad? BR: In my humble opinion, the opportunity to study abroad is one of the greatest things that a student can take advantage of while at Bethel.  The idea of getting a full semester credit while traveling and studying in other locations is amazing.  Getting out of our mid-western "boxes" and being stretched in new ways is such great learning experience that will serve a student well in any career or profession. JW: Where is your hometown? BR: Calgary, Alberta, Canada, eh? JW: What is one place in the world that you have yet to visit but would love to still experience someday? BR: There are so many places but my top two are Antarctica and/or the Trans-Siberian railway.  Antarctica because it is the last continent that I have yet to visit or the Trans-Siberian railway because it is such a long trip across a vast continent and through some very unique countries. JW: What is your all time favorite food you have tasted while abroad? BR: Pai-wan-gua! (For you, Josh) That's actually tough because I've tasted so many good things in so many far out locations.  From incredible fresh sea bass in Ecuador to hand picked blueberries in Alaska; or from sweet mangoes of the Dominican Republic to a kangaroo burger in Australia.  I have to come back to the one that we helped create...ji dan bing ja rou.  It is basically a chalupa type shell thing with chopped grilled chicken, green peppers and spices stuffed inside.  Hot and ready in just a few minutes.  During PacRim 2009 our group saw these two things sold separately by a street vendor in China and we asked if she could put them together for us.  Great decision.  Now they sell them just like that all the time. JW: One thing your never leave home without? BR: A camera.  You never know what is going to happen while abroad so it's always good to be ready to capture the moment.  I've also enjoyed capturing God's beauty around the globe even though my pictures don't do it justice. JW: In all your travels what is the tightest scenario you have been in and how did you get out? BR: I would have to say the time I had a group and we showed up to the airport only to find out our tickets were not valid.  That was tough.  We had no housing, no tickets, no cell phone, and one little car for 25 people.  With a lot of prayer, a few frantic phone calls and some major negotiating we managed to find another flight a half day later that ended up being a better option than our original itinerary.  It was crazy at the time but looking back I can see God's hand in it. JW: What does the future hold for the Semester Abroad program? BR: We continue to strive to make our Semester Abroad programs both exciting and challenging academically, socially, and spiritually.  We are excited to see the opportunities to travel to places like China, Spain, Australia, Hawaii, Europe, Dominican Republic and New Zealand.  We will have some great travel options for May, summer, and the next school year so it's a great chance for students to check out where they can go.  I want to see as many students as possible go abroad during their college experience. JW: Are there any new destinations for the program in the near future? BR: I'm always dreaming about where we can go to challenge students.  We have a few plans for upcoming trips, but I can't give away the secrets at this point!  I'd like to see our students have opportunities in Africa and South America, so those locations are a part of my long-term goals.
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